WADA to return to Moscow lab in search of elusive data

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MOSCOW — The World Anti-Doping Agency is returning to the Moscow anti-doping lab this week in hopes of obtaining data it did not receive before a Dec. 31 deadline.

The Russians were supposed to turn over the data as part of an agreement to reinstate Russia’s anti-doping agency. But WADA officials were turned away last month when Russia raised a late objection that the equipment they brought was not certified according to Russian law.

A WADA committee is scheduled to consider reimposing the ban next week, but that could be forestalled if WADA’s experts obtain the data during their visit on Wednesday. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told state news agencies on Monday “all the technical issues have been straightened out.”

The committee chairman, Jonathan Taylor, says declaring the Russians noncompliant is “a last resort” that is to be pursued only after “every opportunity to comply” has been presented.

Dozens of athletes and athlete groups called for RUSADA’s immediate suspension following the missed deadline.

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said the latest news “appears to be the sequel to the cat-and-mouse game between WADA and Russia we have unfortunately come to expect.”

“We are all holding our breath as to how this one will end come Jan. 9 and whether WADA will be finally given the data on the roughly 9,000 presumptive positive tests results on over 4,000 Russian athletes that hopefully have not been destroyed,” Tygart said.

WADA says the data could be crucial to building doping cases against Russian athletes who doped in past years. Russia has also agreed to turn over stored drug-test samples to be analyzed before a June 30 deadline.

Reinstating the ban could allow WADA to impose tougher penalties on Russia under new rules that could bar the country from hosting major international competitions. RUSADA chief executive Yuri Ganus said Russian sport was “standing on the edge of the abyss” in a letter last month to President Vladimir Putin pleading for the Russian state to cooperate more with WADA.

IOC pledges €500,000 to help restore Notre Dame ahead of 2024 Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee plans to donate €500,000 ($562,000) to the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in the 2024 Olympic host city.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that he wants to see Notre Dame restored within five years.

“The aim of completing the reconstruction in time for Paris 2024 will be an extra motivation for all of us,” IOC president Thomas Bach wrote in a Wednesday letter to Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet, according to a translation by Agence France-Presse, which reported Notre Dame is on the planned marathon and road cycling routes. “All the Olympic Movement and in particular the IOC have been extremely touched by the instantaneous connection the French have made between Notre Dame cathedral and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

More than $500 million has been pledged overall from around the globe after a fire ravaged the 850-year-old cathedral on Monday.

NBC News has more on the Notre Dame fire here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Patrick Kane joined by NHL All-Stars on world championship roster

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NHL All-Stars Jack EichelRyan Suter and Cory Schneider join previously named captain Patrick Kane to lead the U.S. at next month’s world hockey championship in Slovakia, seeking the nation’s first title at a standalone worlds since 1933.

Sixteen players were added to the roster in Thursday’s announcement with more to come before worlds open May 10 and more teams get eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, making more players available. The IIHF allows up to 25 players per nation.

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill will be the U.S. head coach for a third straight worlds. The Americans lost in the quarterfinals in 2017 and earned bronze in 2018, sandwiching an Olympic quarterfinal exit in PyeongChang without NHL players.

Sweden is trying to become the first nation to three-peat at worlds since the Czech Republic in 2001.

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Preliminary IIHF World Championship Roster

Alex DeBrincat (Chicago Blackhawks)
Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres)
Luke Glendening (Detroit Red Wings)
Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes)
Chris Kreider (New York Rangers)
Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings)
James van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia Flyers)
Frank Vatrano (Florida Panthers)
Colin White (Ottawa Senators)

Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks)
Alec Martinez (Los Angeles Kings)
Brady Skjei (New York Rangers)
Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild)

Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks)
Cayden Primeau (Laval (AHL))
Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils)